Something that has really struck me this week is how hopeless we seem to be at coping with differences of opinion – myself included.
It’s possibly magnified by the SHOUTING matches on Twitter where the more binary the view, the easier it is to ‘like’ or SHOUT at it.
Or maybe political debate has dwindled to such focus-group massaged sound-bites for electoral gain that we are not accustomed to longer more nuanced discursive philosophising.
Maybe we never were. Social interaction has always been complex.
I’m watching my dog sleeping wondering if life is simple for him. But it’s not. The cat next door taunts him from the fence; there are new dogs, with unpredictable personalities, to deal with each day at the park; and his owners do not understand the fine taste of shoes, sunglasses and dirty hockey socks.
Even my dog has to cope with different points of view.
This week, I transcribed on the MVBlog a rather astonishing meeting of Moonee Valley Council at which differences of opinion seemed to elicit intense emotions. The structures set up to manage different views in a Council debate seemed inadequate (although the meeting did eventually end with an unanimous vote. Actually the fact the meeting ended at all was possibly a testament to effective structures for debate).
Then the meeting itself, once published, provoked a wide range of views and opinions. Everyone had a slightly unique interpretation of the political spectacle.
The issue at the heart of the matter – the Flemington Community Hub – has also prompted a range of views. Frustratingly, there have been some indisputably clumsy and ineffective consultation processes for attempting to synthesise and resolve the different opinions. Well, that’s my opinion!
My own view on the Flemington Hub is that the proposed location wrongly appropriates valuable parkland, and that Council unilaterally footing a $65m bill is probably unreasonable given the future influx of private residents following the state government’s redevelopment, and sale, of parts of the estate.
But there are solutions to both of these issues and I have never campaigned against new facilities.
Others see it differently.
Sadly, the debate has become heated and divisive, and we haven’t found a way for constructive and fruitful discussion.
I’m optimistic that we can work through conflicting ideas and find a resolution, but we don’t seem to have structures in place to make that happen just yet.
So I had a small idea, that may not work, but that’s ok. It’s just an idea.
The readership of this blog is quite strong for a niche publication focused on one (of 79) Council(s) in Victoria. Perhaps the blog can be used more frequently to share views and opinions to make a contribution to public discussion in our small corner of the world.
The important thing is that readers don’t have to agree with a published viewpoint. I want to get better at just reading or hearing another perspective and not feeling as though I need to agree with, or correct it.
Unless of course it is wrong in fact!! Oh dear – there’s the difficulty. I’m not sure quite what to do about plurality of interpretation of facts (what is a fact???). Oh dear. maybe this won’t work!
My, slowly progressing, PhD uses Critical Race Theory to look at how the languages of second-generation African Australian children are understood in schools. One of the lovely elements of Critical Race Theory is that it prioritises the voices of lived experience – centrally of people whose stories are squashed or manipulated by dominant narratives (such PhD speak!).
But it’s applicable here.
Stories of lived experience are not isolated anecdotes. They are reflections of the conditions of life in a particular place and time.
Hearing people’s raw lived experiences helps us to understand different perspectives.
So I invite anyone to contact me with a story about their life in Moonee Valley. As long as it’s not defamatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, politically partisan or intolerant and mean, I’ll endeavour to publish it. Not yet sure what I’ll do if I query some of the facts!!
If no-one takes me up on the idea, that’s ok. Writing’s not for everyone and it’s always nerve-wracking committing words to publication.
But the offer is there. I’d like to include the perspectives of others on these pages to be shared, heard and understood.
And in the meantime, here is my lived experience of Debney’s Park.
I run through Debney’s Park as often as I can. I start in Travancore and run along the concrete creek, under the aerial slug of CityLink and up into the park. I love encountering kids on bikes, elderly walkers, and soccer matches.
The circular path could be bordered with more plants, there could be more seats and rockeries, but as it is, the track becomes the songline of the park. Round it goes, tracing the edge of the green navel of Flemington life.
Children spill through the gate from the estate, from their concrete walls, onto the soft green carpet, dwarfed by the expanse of freedom. Sheltered from the trucks on the runway above. Dappled in light. For me, the park is already a natural community hub.
I hope a wonderful facility is built in a way in which the natural hub is improved, rather than lost.
Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org